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Midnight in Sarajevo

Midnight in Sarajevo is an immersive festival experience and reinvigorated cultural hub in the heart of Sarajevo’s Old Town. Occupying the space between lunar and clock midnight, the seasonal event follows the pulse of the city’s unmistakable blend of cultural influences. The celebration and its central immersive experience invite all to explore age-old legend, artistry and magic, rooted in Sarajevo’s unique take on time.

A public program of community-led workshops, activities, performances and gatherings uncover the power of slowing down to promote well-being and community resilience. An interactive, actor and resident-led tour invites participants to explore an alternate world moulded by the time and attention of its inhabitants. Participants roam the streets, shops and hidden enclaves of the old town, surrounded by tradition and hidden stories to be discovered. Time stops and remixes, allowing visitors to enter and shape a moment that cannot be felt anywhere else. 

MA Narrative Environment course group project at Central Saint Martins

Sarajevo, 2019

Credit to Cathou Averback, Chi Chung, Sorracha Nimityont, Era Poliou and Sherry Wei

Sarajevo's clock tower is the last remaining lunar clock on earth. While it may appear to be a standard clock tower at first glance (it has a circular clock face with two hands, and rings on the hour) the timepiece is entirely unique.

On this clock, midnight strikes at the moment of sunset (around 5-9 P.M., depending on the season), thus displaying a different hour than the standard time, throughout the day.

​▲ The Clock Tower

Midnight in Sarajevo brings these the clock tower's legacy and stories of the Bosnian Wandering spirits and Bosnian fairies to life. It creates a magical world that only accessible in the space between lunar and clock midnight - the Midnight World. It is a bridge between fantasy and reality, where people of the waking world can interact with the day-to-day magical undertones. It is a space where time stretches, contracts and ultimately disappears – a world contained in a moment.

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​▲ Old Town, Day of the Event.
The town looks as it normally does. Symbols (experience logo) will start appearing throughout the community in the (2-5) days leading up to the event – on maintenance hole covers, in front of stores, on people's t-shirts, etc.
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​▲ Old Town, Lunar Midnight.
12 bell rings from the clock tower mark lunar midnight. Colours project from the tower, flooding the area of the event, suggesting the opening of the Midnight World.
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​▲ Old Town, After Lunar Midnight.
Lights turn off suddenly after ringing ends and the surrounding area lights up anew with the lanterns. Symbols throughout the Old Town, local art, set-up for various activities including but not limited to: a series of local art shows and events in shops, Sevdah live music and dance class, local food and market stalls and film screenings in connection with the slow film festival & the Sarajevo film festival.
​▲ Immersive Tour Ticket
The event is free, but only the timed-ticked holders can enter the immersive tour experience.
​▲ Bascarsija Street, Immersive Tour Entrance
Visitors can entre the immersive tour experience through a entranceway.
​▲ Bascarsija Street, Entryway
The constructed entranceway made of a contorted mirror and several layers of an archway made of fabric. There is fog in the surrounding area.
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​▲ Bascarsija Street, Beginning of the Immersive Tour
Visitors will be greeted by a local shop keeper (an actor), who will tell them the context and rules of the Midnight World, and guide them to go onto the journey. 
​▲ Morica Inn
Visitors will be guided to the Morica Inn where they can join a party to meet other visitors and talk to actors to get information to continue their adventures. They will meet a spirit (an actor) here who needs their help to get back to the real world.
​▲ Traditional Shops on Bascarsija Street, Middle of the Immersive Tour
To help the spirit, visitors have to visit several traditional local shops to complete tasks by meeting characters and learning skills and local history along the way, focusing on the power of community to foster a "slow" mindset that will heal the spirit and send him home safely.
​▲ Sebilj Square, Immersive Tour Experience Exit
After leaving the experience area, tourists can mingle with local festival. The area is lined with communal tables for spontaneous interpersonal exchange and community connections. Various workshops and demonstrations take place throughout the Old Town for the duration of the experience until 12 a.m..
​▲ Old Town, Calendar Midnight (12 a.m.)
The lights of the night 'return' to the clock tower. This occurs as a reversal of what occured at the beginning of the experience (lunar midnight), to mark the end of the night (calendar midnight). Nothern lights-like aesthetic, the lights float in the sky above the shops and linger and gather at the centre of the clock tower. There are another 12 rings that sound from the clock. Once these finish, the atmospheric lantern and projection lights of the town turn off suddenly. The standard street lights return, on the beat of the clock.

For more details please read the project booklet below:

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